Pets allowed
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The geological history of this National Natural Park is as rich and varied as an epic novel, and there is an ecological variety to match. Deeply rooted in Native American, western, and world history, this marvel naturally attracts large crowds–and for good reason. The boundless recreational opportunities with a breathtaking backdrop steeped in a rich history are well worth a day trip.

Amidst the 15 miles of trail found within the park, hiking, rock climbing, mountain and road biking are the activities of choice, and there is a paved 1.5-mile loop accessible by strollers and wheelchairs. A tangle of trails explore almost every nook of the park, and a map is available at the visitor center along with knowledgeable staff and much more information.

Mountain bikers frequent the 5-mile double track out-and-back trail in the park. Although it experiences only a 400-foot shift in elevation, it offers breathtaking views and is ideal for acclimation before treading further back and higher up into the Rockies.

Climbing on the sometimes-brittle sandstone is permitted, and acquiring a permit from the visitor center is free but required before tying in. Climbs vary from 40 to 400 feet in length and one to eight pitches, most of which are trad routes; however, there are some options for sport climbing on fixed gear. Note that only chalk matching the rust-red color of the rock is allowed and that bouldering is prohibited in some areas.

An estimated 65 million years ago (about 100 million years after dinosaurs meandered about the area), the old Pacific plate slammed into the North American plate, tipping the orange and rust colored rocks that were once behemoth sand dunes like the Great Sand Dunes found in southern Colorado. Adding to the magnificence of the scenery is its perch between the great plains and the foothills, reflecting the ecology of both zones.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Iconic geological features. Rock climbing. Desert landscape.


Extremely heavily used.


Geologically significant
Flushing toilets
Rock climbing
Potable water
Picnic tables
Horseback riding


Nearby Adventures


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Unplug and reconnect in the endless beauty of Colorado Springs. Soak up spacious blue skies as you hike refreshing waterfalls, national forests and natural landmarks. From sweeping vistas to rare rock formations, the region is full of reinvigorating experiences.

Trade in screen time for mountain time to discover unforgettable adventures. Ditch your to-do list for your bucket list. Play alongside towering sandstone formations in Garden of the Gods Park. Navigate the twists and turns up Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain and the roaring white waters of the Arkansas River.

With more than 60 inspired things to see and do, the only lines you’ll find here are the ones you cast in a sparkling reservoir. Where the nightlife involves stargazing in the wilderness and turning up means making it to the top of the Manitou Springs Incline.

Escape to the cool Rocky Mountains of Colorado Springs, explorers are always welcome.

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